Before we start, I’d like to get something off my chest: VMware Server is CRAP! Don’t take this the wrong way. I’ve used VMware Server for about a year and a half, staring shortly after discovering Ubuntu itself. And at the time, Linux Kernel updates didn’t come down the wire quite as often as they do now. The thing about kernel updates is that you would have to recompile the kernel headers of VMware Server after an update manually. In other words, you had to go to the Terminal, type in a command to execute a script, and hit the enter key about 20 times to accept all the defaults (with the faith that the defaults are exactly what you want them to be). Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “What a stupid task to force a user to go through. Have any of these guys ever heard of the five 9′s?”
Now I should give credit where it is due. VMware Server is still a powerful virtual machine solution with a ton of functionality packed into it. But it seems to be geared towards advanced users who enjoy wasting time in terminal windows because their software breaks on them all the time. Anyway, Virtualbox is a LOT better than VMware in this department. In the time that I’ve used it, I’ve never had to do anything special after a kernel update. It just keeps on working. No special commands needed… at least that I’ve seen so far in the last couple month of testing, through 3 kernel updates. It’s still kicking, but it is yet to seen what will happen when 8.10 comes out. I suspect it will not cause a problem.
Okay, so how do I install VBox?
First, visit this link. From here, you’ll be able to download a self-installing deb file for your version of Ubuntu. There are other distro-specific versions available for download (such as SUSE, Debian, Red-Hat, Fedora, etc) but I can only go into installing the software in Ubuntu. But in most cases, I’d bet this guide will work for you even if you’re not using Ubuntu.
Ok, so you have your deb file downloaded. Double-click on it, then click “Install Package”. After this, the application will be installed and you’ll find a new icon in your Applications>System Tools menu. But first, you will now need to add your user account to the vboxusers group. The quickest way to do this is click Applications>Accessories>Terminal. From within terminal, type
- sudo adduser $USER vboxusers
and then press enter. Leave the terminal window open. You are done with installing and setting up Virtualbox… almost. You will now need to make some changes to get USB working. This involves editing 3 configuration text files. So let’s get started. Still in Terminal, type
- sudo gedit /etc/init.d/mountdevsubfs.sh
This will open the mountdevsubfs.sh file in your Text Editor. While this file is open, look for these lines:
# Magic to make /proc/bus/usb work
#mkdir -p /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs
#domount usbfs “” /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs -obusmode=0700,devmode=0600,listmode=0644
#ln -s .usbfs/devices /dev/bus/usb/devices
#mount –rbind /dev/bus/usb /proc/bus/usb
On these bottom four lines, remove the # signs so it looks like this:
# Magic to make /proc/bus/usb work
mkdir -p /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs
domount usbfs “” /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs -obusmode=0700,devmode=0600,listmode=0644
ln -s .usbfs/devices /dev/bus/usb/devices
mount –rbind /dev/bus/usb /proc/bus/usb
Now save the file and you’ll be sent back to the terminal window. For some people, that’s all you have to do. If you restart your PC and run Virtualbox, but still have problems getting your USB devices to mount, we have two more files to edit. But first, we need to find the Group ID number for the vboxusers group. This can by done by typing the following command into terminal:
- grep vbox /etc/group
This will give you a result similar to: vboxusers:x:118:username
In the above example, 118 is the group ID number for the vboxusers group. Your number will likely be different. Jot your own number down for future reference.
Now on to editing the remaining two files. Type this into terminal:
- sudo gedit /etc/fstab
In this file, you will want to paste in the following text at the bottom:
## usbfs is the USB group in fstab file:
none /proc/bus/usb usbfs devgid=118,devmode=664 0 0
Note the part that says “devgid=118″. Change the 118 to match the number you wrote down just a second ago. It must match your group ID for vboxusers. Save and close this file.
We have one last file to edit. Type this into terminal:
- sudo gedit /etc/init.d/mountkernfs.sh
Inside of this file, there is a line that says “# Mount spufs, if Cell Broadband processor is detected”. You will want to insert the following text ABOVE that line:
## Mount the usbfs for use with Virtual Box
domount usbfs usbdevfs /proc/bus/usb -onoexec,nosuid,nodev,devgid=118,devmode=664
Again, you will want to change the 118 to match your vboxusers group ID number.
Once all of this is done, you will need to restart your PC. Granted, this isn’t the easiest looking app to install, but it is easier to use and install and maintain than VMware Server in my opinion. Enjoy!